Friday, May 1, 2009

4. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott.

4. Little Women – Louisa Alcott. I read this book at my grandmother’s house in the summer of 1977, and then finished it the next. My grandmother told me it was one of her favorite books as a child.
History: This novel was published in two parts in 1868 and 1869. The first part of the book was an immediate commercial and critical success and prompted the composition of the book's second part, also a huge success. She drew heavily on her experiences growing up with her three sisters in Concord Massachusetts. As an adult, Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist. In 1847, the family housed a fugitive slave for one week. In 1848 Alcott read and admired the "Declaration of Sentiments" published by the Seneca Falls Convention on women's rights. In her later life, Alcott became an advocate of women's suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts in a school board election.
Plot: The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March—and is loosely based on the author's childhood experiences with her three sisters. Each of the March girls must struggle to overcome a major character flaw: Meg, vanity who becomes discontented with the children she teaches. ; Jo loses her temper regularly, Beth, shyness and is always kind and gentle; and golden-haired schoolgirl Amy is inclined towards affectation and selfishness. After certain happy times winning over the Laurences, dark times arrive as Marmee finds out about her husband's illness. Worse is to come as Beth contracts scarlet fever in her Samaritan efforts for a sick neighbour and becomes more or less an invalid. The novel tells of their progress into young womanhood with the additional strains of romance, Beth's terminal illness, the pressures of marriage and the outside world. The girls must live up to their mother and father's high expectations as mothers, wives, sisters and citizens. In the course of the novel, the girls become friends with their next-door neighbor, the teenage boy Laurie, who becomes a particular friend of Jo. The story represents family relationships and explores family life thoroughly. It also reflects issues of feminism, as Jo consistently struggles with the boundaries 19th century society placed on females, including not being able to fight in a war, not being able to attend college and being pressured by her Aunt March to find a suitable husband to take care of her. .
Review: The book was a little sweet for me, the language was without any true candor or honesty. It is obviously a book for younger women, not adults. I followed through with the plot, and it is good that there was a little romance, without would have been too boring.
Opening Line: "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
Closing Line: "Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!"
Quotes: “. . . love is a great beautifier”
“I am angry nearly every day of my life.”
rubbish poor mediocre okay good very good superb

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